I have always believed that one of the hallmarks of a great restaurant is the care and attention it gives to its vegetables. The same could be said of the way we cook at home. All too often the cook’s efforts are focused on producing meat or fish as the centrepiece of the meal and vegetables are not much more than an afterthought -boiled, then hastily tipped into a serving dish without much consideration for seasoning and presentation. Of course, it’s hard to juggle the different elements of a meal and bring everything to the table at the same time in a state of perfection. Yet vegetables really do repay a little effort. Their natural flavours shine with just the minimum of encouragement – a sprinkling of chopped fresh mint on tender young peas or courgettes; a grating of nutmeg stirred into creamy mashed potatoes or lightly cooked spinach; a hint of oriental spicing with dark leafy greens such as curly kale or chard.